Pine Belt still rebuilding after tornado as 2013 comes to a close

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - One Hattiesburg resident said she is "very happy" to spend this Christmas in her brand new home after the EF4 tornado destroyed her long-time Hattiesburg home in February.

"For me it's been a long year," said Lenora Burden.

Like many others, she was left to rebuild after the storm. A ride around the tornado's path shows where progress has been made in recovery efforts, but other affected areas appear the same way they did on the afternoon of February 10.

"It don't even look like Hattiesburg anymore when you look around because so much is gone," said Burden.

After the tornado, people had a lot of choices to make- how to even start the clean-up process and what to do next. For some families, their choice was to completely rebuild while others completely tore down their home and decided to start anew somewhere different.

Historic Hattiesburg icons are slowly recovering, such as Westminster Presbyterian Church and the Ogletree House on the University of Southern Mississippi campus. Other landmarks are empty lots where only memories remain.

It is hard for many to believe a natural disaster could destroy parts of the places they have always loved. As a new year approaches, citizens remain thankful that their neighbors survived the storm and the Pine Belt continues to make a strong comeback.

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